(Review) The Guardian: A Tale of Andrew Murray, A Tale of Scottish Independence by Jack Whyte

Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: Scottish history, historical fiction, 13th century, the Battle of Stirling Bridge
Pages: 560
Source: Free advanced reader copy from Forge Books in exchange for a review
Rating: 4 stars for very good

Link for book at the publisher: The Guardian

Jack Whyte's website

Jack Whyte's Facebook

Jack Whyte's Twitter

Barnes and Noble

The Guardians Trilogy:
The Forest Laird, William Wallace
The Renegade, Robert Bruce--this book can be confusing in the title. It is newly titled as Robert the Bruce
The Guardian, Andrew Murray, also known as Andrew de Moray

I noticed there is a discrepancy in the change of book titles. This can be confusing. All of the trilogy books are A Tale of Scottish Independence and The Guardian Series. The first book is about William Wallace, the second is Robert the Bruce, and the third is Andrew Murray.

I wish there was a map included in my advanced reader copy. This link includes an easy to understand map of the Battle of Stirling Bridge: BBC Bitesize.

Further links for reading:
Andrew Moray from Education Scotland
The Son of Scotland
Crann Tara

YouTube video on William Wallace by Jack Whyte. I did not find a video pertaining to this book.

The book begins with the "Author's Note". Jack Whyte answers and explains, "What is historical fiction?" I loved this introduction piece from the author. It is true, some readers do not know the definition of historical fiction.

Father James Wallace, or Jamie, is the narrator of the story. He is the cousin of William Wallace. Chapter one is dated 1343, Jamie is looking back on life in regards to the history of his cousin William Wallace, and Andrew Murray. Andrew Murray joined forces with William Wallace in the Wars of Scottish Independence. They battled the English king, Edward I, and his army.

The story is narrated and from the perspective of Jamie. He is both a man of the priesthood and a (sometime) soldier. He has written the tale to set the story straight on William Wallace. He believes his cousin has become a "demigod" and he wants an honest portrayal to be presented.

The year is 1297.
Edward I (ruled 1272-1307) invaded Scotland wanting to claim lands. Scottish forces gathered and fought to defend and reclaim their homeland.

Over-all I loved this story. This is the first book I've read from Jack Whyte. I plan to read more!

Several points lead me to award this book 4 stars for very good.

  • Historical accuracy. 
  • Portrays the brotherhood of the men in arms. Their devotion, camaraderie, commitment, strength, and sacrifice. 
  • Shows the transformation of William Wallace. He had a dramatic change in his demeanor and focus after his family's death. 
  • Records the life of Andrew Murray. His motivations, family, and part in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. 
  • Impressive and descriptive view of Stirling Castle. 
  • A masculine story, but filled with the imagery of humanity and its vulnerability.
  • Powerful account of battles and the battlefield afterwords. 
  • Jamie is an insightful and reflective man. Through his lens I saw how he processed the horrors of a battle, carnage, and death.
  • An especially emotional moment in the book when Jamie stops to give viatica or viaticum, last rights. 
The book is more of Jamie's reflection on this period in time, 1297. The book contains the characters, William Wallace and Andrew Murray. However, it did not reflect strongly the one man, Andrew Murray (in the subtitle). The story is wonderful, but it does not relay to me what the subtitle referred. I feel Jamie, Father James Wallace is the principal character.